Friday, September 15, 2017

On My Design Wall

I have been thoroughly enjoying my time in the quilt room this week. Obviously I have a bit of a thing for pink and gold right now, but that's just the way tend to things happen around here! This week saw me finally diving into trying to make pieced letters.
What's on my design wall
The capital 'I' was super easy and so that was a good start. From there it got a little mind boggling at times, but eventually there was a rhythm going that felt easy and good. I had forgotten until diving into these playful letters, that years ago, I put pieced wording on the back of one of my younger brothers graduation quilt. It was laborious work, cutting every piece of the letter just so. Tonya's free form method {Word Play Quilts by Tonya Ricucci} is so much more fun! Sometimes I follow her general guidelines and sometimes I don't, but it's definitely keeping me entertained. For instance, I made the 'M' accidentally by cutting and sewing the angles wrong on the 'W'. Oh well. It will work just fine in another word. There are certainly going to be plenty of words before I get done!
Add caption
I also got a good start on the hst medallion quilt. It was a bit tricky making sure the measurements were right for the first black row, but after getting that settled, the rest should just be a matter of repeats. I decided to use the Easy Angle method {Diane's tutorial is my go-to} for increased accuracy and well, less trimming. I hate the trimming part of the traditional hst method! And as this quilt will continue to build around rows of hst's, accuracy is key for ending up with a square quilt, right?

Right.... Hah.  I ran into trouble immediately because that increased accuracy only occurs when cutting and sewing is happening in a precision sort of way. Ugghh... Too many distractions happening around me and so my hst rows were a little bit too long. Consistently too long, but still. Not good. And then it occurred to me that those black strips would be placed between every single row of hst's! Serendipity, or a very smart quilter. Hmm... Me thinks the black rows had a different sort of function than just good aesthetics. 

So I did what I would normally do and just fudged on the seam allowance here and there. {*Confessing my sins here...} Just a smidge extra sewn into the seam in about three spots on every row. With that, the row of hst's shrunk to the proper length, easily allowing the corner squares to fit properly. Can you even tell when you look at the top picture? I can't! From here on out, every corner square at the end of both the black rows and the hst rows, will have to be the exact same size. That means I can play around {and fudge with the hst's wherever I need to} as long as the black rows and corner squares remain a constant. *whew!

Are you shaking your head at me and wondering why I don't just sharpen up my cutting and piecing skills? This is an old make-do sort of quilt that I'm interpreting. On closer examination, the hst's don't even represent the same way from side to side of the quilt or even a complete row around the quilt--the only constant is that the dark part of the hst is pointing upwards throughout. I couldn't believe it when I started taking a closer look. So fascinating! And because there are so many rows and rows of hst's, it's not at all obvious to the casual viewer. Woohoo! This means I can fudge with impunity and yes, great glee!
Another couple blocks for the Solids Challenge quilt
I have also found time to do some applique work. These blocks have been practically begging for some attention all year. After this there are only three left, and as always, they have been ridiculously easy to do. And fun. I love the stark, simple beauty of them! Why I have drug my feet for so long on these is a mystery. Having several new applique projects waiting in the wings finally compelled me to get going on finishing these blocks, but really, the reasons for why I continually dawdle around on certain projects, then speed right through others? Motivation and Mojo. Crazy stuff....

Linking up with Sew, stitch, snap, share....

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

More Quilt Show Pics

A few more pics to show and then I'll get back to regular posting. Loved this solid fabrics version of an old quilt block! It's one that's been on my bucket list for a long time. 
So bright and happy!

And here it is, my favorite part of the whole show--the Jim Tharpe guest collection. Ahhh.. I am such a sucker for vintage and antique quilts. Some dated back to the 1800's!
From the Jim Tharpe collection
I love the whimsical fabric usage so very much. Probably up-cycled old clothes?
From the Jim Tharpe Collection
The way they used a couple colors in almost every block until obviously they ran out of a fabric. Then they made-do.
From the Jim Tharpe Collection
Have to smile at the new addition of background fabric. Why the green? And you know me, this was probably my favorite in the whole show just 'cuz I found it charming, especially that little tiny sliver of green added onto that next to last block in the bottom row.
From the Jim Tharpe Collection
It all makes me even more determined to be less self conscious about fabric pairings. I mean, look at the sashing in the top and bottom rows in the quilt below? And the gingham strip added onto a smallish block there in the far right row? I don't know if I could ever deliberately do that, but it's so charming. Love it!
From the Jim Tharpe Collection
I entered four quilts in all, all pictured below. The first one is Geese Tracks & Vases. One of my favorite quilts I've ever made. And yes, I have lots and lots of favorites....
Geese Tracks & Vases
The second quilt is the marsala challenge quilt. I just wanted to see it hanging up in a show 'cuz I thought it was an interesting quilt.

Unexpected Crossroads
The third quilt is Learning Curves which they hung sideways for some funny reason. I checked and the label was in the bottom corner of the quilt like always. I'm curious if they thought it didn't matter which way it hung? Oh well. I entered this one primarily because it was fall colors. Always good to see in a fall show.

Learning Curves
And the fourth quilt is the Pickle Dish Insanity quilt. I left this picture unfiltered as it was an interesting view, kind of a faded look from the bright lighting I think. The value changes were still very evident so that made me happy. And the piecing and hand quilting looked good. I always have to wonder about that....

Pickle Dish Insanity
I don't want to add any other observations about my quilts as I'm obviously in a funky mood. We've had a very long, tough summer in a lot of ways that I don't feel free to discuss completely. To give you just a quick peek into our lives--in just the previous last two-three weeks my husband has been sick once again with a recurring illness, a cousin and her family stayed with us for several days immediately after breaking her ribs in a car accident, my mother-in-law needed some help because of her bad health and we've had other company. More company to come this weekend that we're actually kind of excited about {except for having to clean the house!} and oh yeah, we also went to a funeral. I am not complaining as this is just a season in life and what we do. It's part and parcel of large family dynamics and involvement in our church. We have much to be thankful for, especially when all we have to do is read the news to hear of so much destruction and devastation in other parts of the country. My heart goes out to all those who are just trying to survive!

So yes, absolutely, I am head down in my stitching every chance there is. No I am not going to quit making quilts in my weird and wonderful style, thank you for all the reassurance offered. It would have probably would have been better to just attend the quilt show this year and not have to deal with the emotion of having my quilts involved. My emotions are, well, possibly a bit frayed these days? Don't mind me. Really, I'll be fine. I'm just gonna go find some fabric and start three new project first chance I get....

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A Few Pics From the Quilt Show

Here's a few pics from the NCW Quilt and Fiber Arts Festival. As always, I tend to go up and down aisles, taking in every single quilt. From there I kind of wander around to get that second long look at all my favorites. There were many, very nice looking quilts, even some in the Blackbird Design style that so thrilled me 5-8 years ago, and of course lots and lots of machine quilting efforts.
Made by the guest quilter, probably her darkest quilt there

Honestly I have very mixed feelings about this show. Very fun to walk in knowing a few quilts were my own. I was a bit incredulous actually, as this was one of those shows I attended way back when and sort of cowered from awe and intimidation. 'I'll never be able to quilt like this!' and yet, here I was, funnily enough, with a pickle dish quilt {of all complicated patterns to choose from} hanging in the very same show year later! Who would have ever thunk it?
A fun looking quilt
There is {still} so very, very much to learn about fabric, color and design. I know and relish that thought and want to continue to push to learn and grow! The quilt above had a very enjoyable color and fabric usage. It was so nicely done! Very eye-catching and yes, playful, viewed from across the room. While not especially a lover of foxes, I do much appreciate whimsy in quilting.

So yeah, it's a great feeling, being part of this particular show that scared the socks off of me and made me positively yearn to learn how to be a better quilter. And yet, I don't feel like my quilts really 'belong' here. Maybe at the Buggy Barn quilt show if it was still a happening thing! Not that I was treated badly. Don't think that. In fact, the few guild members I talked to were very friendly and welcoming. But my quilts? They looked a little out of place to me--the odd ones out. I felt sorry for how drab they looked in comparison. Sort of soft, naive and hillbilly instead of bright, shiny and modern like the strawberry quilt pictured below. Honestly, my quilts would have probably looked better at a flea mart, a thought that just makes me laugh!

So ironic since that soft, cozy, almost vintage look is the self same style I've been working toward for like, years? What am I whining about? But no, the whole point of putting them in this show was so I could clearly see my efforts hanging up there on the wall, mixed in with all different styles. Be able to look at them from a distance and maybe understand a little more about my own quilting voice and style. Am I able to convey the things that I want my quilts to represent? Maybe yes, maybe no. It's still an ongoing work in progress.
My quilts fit in just fine with this style of quilt!

One of my favorite quotes is 'Comparison is the thief of joy'. It's one I think about a lot because we are somewhat conditioned to be herd-like, from grade school clear through to adults, learning to garner the easy approval as children and then following along with marketing and trends in later years. I've never been especially afraid of being different {growing up in very large family well prepared me for always being different}, but I do understand the caution of picking and choosing the environment in which we deliberately choose to 'stand out'. If there wasn't the occasional prim., cottage style applique or vintage quilt in this particular show, I'd probably never enter another quilt here. No reason to deliberately poke myself in the eye!
The colors in this quilt make me happy!
I really appreciated this particular interpretation of an antique quilt. So inspiring! It was positively cheerful and happy looking in these colors, and the Liberty prints{used in the blocks} have a vintage-look connection that I adore. Trying for an interpretation of a vintage or antique quilt is something I need to remember to do on occasion as it seems to ground me a little and wake me up to the value of personal choice.

And as always, I'm intrigued by piecing play with stripes. Wouldn't this look fabulous in recycled shirtings? I would have been drooling instead of merely admiring it and yes, it was very well done in beautiful fabrics. It's so interesting how our tastes change throughout the years and where our new interests are leading us to! I know a lot of us can thank Kaja for continually showcasing the interesting effects of using upcycled fabrics!

The butterfly sample quilt was a very fun, interesting example of playing with sampler blocks, something I've always enjoyed.  Any young woman would probably love having this quilt! I considered what it would look like pieced in a more improv. style. How hard would it be to end up with a definite butterfly shape and would that ruin the feel of the quilt or would it make it even more interesting looking. Sort of a wild butterfly?

That's probably the main thing that caught me off guard this year. I spent more time wondering what a quilt would look like if it was done a little differently, in color, piecing or fabric choice. Isn't it great to be a quilter in today's world of abundance and access to inspiration? I'll try and post my quilt pics in the next post, though you've already seen them here on the blog before!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Vintage Coxcombs Moving on to the Next Phase

This quilt turned out so different from what I expected. Still wrapping my mind around the finished quilt top! I thought it would have a kind of cottagey, romantic feel and instead it keeps reminding me of  those Brach's neapolitan coconut candies we ate as a kid.
Vintage Coxcombs a completed quilt top!
This one was almost left border-less, but it just didn't quite look right. Out came the various colors and fabrics, until finally I settled on the darker green-blue and brown simple sawtooth idea. It works. Absolutely it does, but still, more blue-green in a quilt that was supposed to look soft and dreamy?
Kind of old fashioned looking

I'm really, really happy with the pieced backgrounds in many of the blocks. It seems to give an added layer of interest in a quilt that could easily be dismissed as too sweet to possibly be interesting. Not true at all! And it's a difficult quilt for me to get pictures of, all those light browns and taupe colors reflecting light right back at you or looking moody because it's soaking all the light up. Life's been way to busy to have several photo shoots and so what you see is what you get.
It's so much prettier than the pictures show
I have a feeling this is going to be one of those quilt tops that I fall a little more in love with every time it comes out of the quilt drawers. It's always great fun to pull the completed quilt tops out one by one {oh, I forgot about that one!} and have a little play time deciding which ones get to go in the hoop next!
Lots of work in this quilt!
So happy to get this one to a point where I can check it off the 'in-progress' list and get those extra fabrics back into the stash totes. It's been a long time coming. The funny thing is that I piddled around on it forever because the outcome was surely a 'given'. And now it's completely surprised me in color and the overall feeling it conveys. How does this manage to happen?

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Working On the Foundation of a Quilt

I had finally dug out my backup sewing machine late last week and was making a bit of progress on re-familiarizing myself with the way it operates. Then I got one of those phone calls that turns everything upside down and inside out. Yeah, hello and goodbye to the weekend plans of completely immersing myself in quilting room!
Trying to see what I have to work with!
Oh well. That's just the way things go occasionally. I did manage to pick the loose thread and lint off of the four quilts I entered into a quilt show about an hour from here. That's the same show my fire quilt ended up at two years ago--a kinda intimidating show for me honestly, but they seem friendly and the quilts are definitely displayed very well. I decided it was time to quit being a coward, maybe stretch my wings a little bit once again. Always interesting illuminating to see our quilts hanging alongside other peoples efforts right?

So many options!
So yesterday saw me back in the quilting room and for some reason I was ready to play with the words on a quilt idea suggested over at Anne's. I'm running a little late with this challenge but have been thinking about it a lot. It needs to be something that has meaning to me and also be a bit challenging or I'm gonna run out of steam fast. That's just how I roll.

Since I do a lot of applique work around here, it feels like a good time to dive into my 'Word Play Quilts' book by Tonya Ricucci. It's been gathering dust for a long time now. First I had to rough out the basic foundation and idea of the quilt, which I quickly did by grabbing the leftover rising sun blocks. Love, love, love using up the orphan blocks! And no, it wasn't a totally impulsive decision. Like I said, I've been pondering different avenues for this particular idea for weeks now!

Then I played around with how to set them together and finally decided on a simple every-other sort of block in complementary colors. Since the intent is to ultimately add words onto the quilt, I knew there needed to be calmer areas in addition to the attention grabbing rising sun blocks.

The biggest trick was how to design these new blocks in order to have them end up at 17 1/2" square. Oh yeah. Because I had trimmed those big star blocks down to an oddball size thinking it wouldn't matter....  That math almost broke me, but last night finally saw me with some real progress up on the wall. The colors are making me very, very happy and for this moment, I'm thinking, words? Forget about the words! hehe  But no, it'll will be a fun quilt {if and} when it all comes together. Basically I need to decide if the quilt will be medallion style with words surrounding the 9 centerpiece blocks or if they will be rows of words breaking up each 3-block row, or even if it will just be a big puzzle. There are lots of ideas being considered, but nothing will be set in stone until the words start getting finished. At that point they will be auditioned with the rest of the pieces and well, you get the idea. That's when the real fun starts!
Because quilts are meant to be used....
Had to laugh as I wandered through my sons bedroom to get to the quilt room over in the corner. Apparently he threw off the blanket when he came in late last night {from a long weekend in Oregon with his older brother} and just curled up in his favorite quilt, never even attempting to get between the sheets. Gotta love these kids who grow up living with quilts. They sure do know how to use them!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

If Only There Was More Time in a Day....

I've been doing a lot of hand stitching lately. The flower blocks are finished and now, as of last night, the alternate petals blocks are completed as well. Although the colors in this quilt are a little funky, they have a richness and depth that I really, really admire. Don't ask me why, they just do!
Hey Grandma! progress
Just the other night when I was stitching away on my blocks {in a tired haze, but attempting to wind down after a long day}, there was this memory of a specific quilt that flashed through my head. The colors in this project reminded me very much of it and I struggled to put the pieces together. And after many long moments of trying to recollect, it came to me. The flea market we went to earlier this summer with the shabby, vintage looking, simple-squares quilt hanging in a back corner space!

I glimpsed this wonderful looking quilt from clear across the way, and immediately had to go suss out the details. After examining the quilt, I determined it wasn't worth the asking price, but those colors and that strange mixture of prints! So very intriguing! No, I didn't take a picture of the inspiration quilt as I desperately wanted to try and make something that 'felt' similar, but perhaps in a style of my own interpretation.  Ah.. but it feels good to know that somehow I have managed to capture the emotion of that particular quilt enough to link to it in a tired, weary moment. However different this quilt is in the actual details, it just makes my heart sing too {success!}. Linking up to sew, stitch, snap, share #11 with Linda and Julie. Thanks ladies, for the great inspiration and also the motivation to find time to post. Lately it's been a toss up between computer time or stitching time.....

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Finishing Up

There are at least three different AHIQ projects in the daydream stages. Stacks of fabrics gathered and being fondled and ideas simmering in the background. Alas, time has gotten away from me in these dog days of summer and I count myself fortunate to have even found time for stitching down a binding. 
Improv. & Cherries a finish!
This Improv. & Cherries Or Berries {or whatever they are} was one of my improv. projects from last year. I started with make-fabric units from the scrap bin and then raided the stash totes to find the rest of the sashing and border fabrics.

Washed and drying on the floor....
It was all made in the 'flying by the seat of my pants' approach and it definitely helped to have access to the tiny, little design wall available in my quilting room as well. It ended up being machine quilted in a lazy cross-hatch pattern and then I came back and did some big-stitch hand quilting on the borders. It's very, very difficult for me to have the courage to machine stitch across the top of applique and so hand quilting is often the answer around here. Understand that I do very much appreciate the results! Just that little bit of hand stitching gives the quilt a very soft, approachable look that melts my mushy, quilt-loving heart.
Looking very cheery
It feels like a very cheerful quilt to me with the pops of pink, red and yellow and I love it, odd applique elements and all. In my mind the applique is the icing on the cake, the whimsy that makes it stand out from hundreds of other scrap-bin style quilts.
Quilts are part and parcel of the decor around here...
For now, it's taken up residence in a fabulous new basket gifted to me--a place where it's sure to be well used because of its accessibility {and probably its lack of pretentiousness too}. Everyone knows that the 'hands-off' quilts are hanging on the quilt racks or stacked in the corner shelves. Right?

Linking to AHIQ #24 with Ann and Kaja. Maybe by next months link-up, I'll have a better idea of what my new ah-hoc improv. project will entail!


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